Premier delivered a hopeful message during online CAQ convention
In spite of infection rates rising again during the second phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, Quebec Premier François Legault delivered a message of hope recently to members of the Coalition Avenir Québec and to all Quebecers during a CAQ policy convention.
In a keynote speech to CAQ members during the convention webcast on Nov. 7, Legault said the government remains focused on restoring and expanding the province’s economy. But at the same time, he suggested there might be economic advantages to be gained despite the pandemic.
“Thanks for continuing to believe in change,” he said, citing a key element of the CAQ platform which emphasizes implementing fundamental changes in the province’s administration. “And thanks also to all those who have been involved since the beginning of the pandemic in helping others, including those who are alone. It’s during trying times that we get to see a people’s greatness emerging.”
Legault took a moment to acknowledge the province’s Anglophone community. “I would also would like to thank our fellow English-speaking Quebecers,” he said. “I want to tell you that our party welcomes you with open arms, and we’re all going through these difficult times together, and we want to bring everyone to come out stronger, everyone to be proud Quebecers.”
‘It’s not over,’ Legault said
Legault said he would have preferred to tell the 2,000 or so CAQ party members who tuned into the event that “the worst is behind us, but it’s not finished. The war hasn’t been won yet. There are still difficult months ahead, and we see what’s happening in Europe and in certain states in the U.S. Every time we think the coast is clear, the virus comes back twice as strong.
“I know it’s not easy,” he continued. “But we have a duty to make sacrifices. We owe this to our senior citizens. We also owe this to our children. We want them to stay in school and they get to have a reasonably normal childhood.
He was also hopeful
“And despite all this, there is hope,” said Legault. “We are succeeding in stabilizing the number of cases, and we must continue to break this second wave. And when I am talking about hope, I’m not just talking about our struggle against the virus. I’m also talking about our struggle to relaunch the economy.”
Noting that this past spring Quebec found itself faced with its worst economic crisis since World War II, he pointed out that thousands of Quebecers had since then lost their livelihoods, but that the government responded by implementing measures to come to the assistance of businesses.
The economic picture
Legault maintained that Quebec was the province that contributed the most pandemic assistance to businesses during the ongoing crisis. “And the result is that Quebec is the province which has the best economic relaunch in Canada,” he said, noting, however, that the province’s economy had been doing well prior to the onset of the pandemic.
“In 2019, economic growth in Quebec was the best of all the G7 countries,” said Legault. “And this economic relaunch, it’s not just a question of rising again. With the pandemic, there are changes which accelerated and the economy is in the midst of changing. The pandemic is an opportunity to relaunch our economy on a new basis, in a new direction.”
Transforming the economy
According to the Premier, technologies like teleworking, online sales, artificial intelligence and robotization are paving the way to a looming new economy. As such, he said workers will have to be re-trained for new types of employment, and young as well as older generations of Quebecers will find themselves having to return to studies many times over their careers to renew their knowledge of the evolving professions and skills.
Legault said the pandemic is presenting yet another option: to build a Quebec that has more economic autonomy. While pointing out that in just a few months this year Quebecers began purchasing a great deal more products produced here, he said this offers an opportunity “to have a more prosperous Quebec which serves all Quebecers.”